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Classic Wild Mushroom Risotto

It takes only a small amount of dried porcini to make this intensely flavored risotto. Carnaroli rice, a short-grain variety grown in Italy, has the perfect texture for this dish, although Arborio rice is an excellent second choice. Traditionally made with chicken broth, this risotto is so rich that vegetarians can use water instead.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms 
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 4 cups low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth or water, or as needed
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped shallot 
  • 1 1/2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio 
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, or more, to taste 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste  

Directions:

Place the mushrooms in a bowl with the lukewarm water and let soak until the mushrooms are soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Lift out the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Squeeze the mushrooms dry and chop them. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth. Reserve 1/2 cup for the risotto. Save the remaining liquid for another use.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the broth until bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.

In a small Dutch oven or deep, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and stir in the rice. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until the rice is evenly coated with the oil and the grains turn translucent at the edges, about 1 minute. Pour in the wine and stir until it is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just moist, about 3 minutes. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, always waiting until the rice is just moist before adding more. After 2 cups have been used, add the 1/2 cup mushroom soaking liquid and the chopped mushrooms. When the liquid is almost fully absorbed, resume adding the broth.

The risotto is ready when it is creamy and slightly soupy and the kernels are tender but still slightly firm at the center, about 35 minutes after the first addition of broth. Remove from the heat.

Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper. Divide evenly among warmed wide, shallow bowls or among warmed plates and serve immediately. Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).